Archive for the ‘Michele Bachmann’ Category
TRC is no fan of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. That’s no secret. We are also no fan of the St. Croix Bridge project that Ms. Bachmann has been pushing for, and recently succeeded in navigating though DC.
But in celebration of that success, I saw this picture, and thought, well, despite my personal thoughts on Bachmann, we do have one important thing in common: she wears Minnesota proudly. Here she is in a Twins apron, serving hot dish to Senator Amy Klobuchar. Doesn’t get more Minnesota than that.
From the Stillwater Patch, which includes the recipe for Congresswoman Bachmann’s St. Croix River Crossing Hot Dish
TRC has made no secret of the fact that we oppose the enormous St. Croix Bridge project that has been sought for many years. Well, it has finally made its way through the labyrinthine process of legislative approval. It has passed both chambers, and is headed to the President.
I don’t like this bridge primarily because it will require the first ever exemption from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, a precedent that we shouldn’t set. We should protect what we have protected. Anytime we decide to un-protect natural resources that we have set aside it is a loss for the future.
Not only that. But it’s too expensive–$690 Million-and too big. It’s just too much. Our Minnesota voice of reason on this issue has always been Rep. Betty McCollum. Here she is on the bridge:
We agree with federal, state and local leaders who believe a new bridge across the St. Croix is needed….National media outlets have scrutinized the cost and scale of the St. Croix bridge project and have questioned whether it actually represents a massive Congressional earmark.
Let’s put the mega-bridge in context. Following the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, a replacement bridge was built to serve 140,000 cars per day at a cost of $260 million — to date, the most expensive bridge ever built in Minnesota. In contrast, the St. Croix mega-bridge would serve only 18,000 cars the day it opens but would carry a price tag that is 260 percent more expensive.
140,000 cars = $260 Million. So naturally, 18,000 cars = $690 Million. That makes sense.
Now it is passed. I will say only that in my opinion this bridge will be a monument of waste. If we were smart, we would build it smart and safe and in a way that does not require us to undo the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. But we aren’t going to. And that’s a shame.
At least Michele Bachmann will finally have a rebuttal to those who said she never got anything done in DC.
TRC is a pretty big fan of Senator Amy Klobuchar. She strikes me as an exemplar of the modern national representative, and I’m happy to have her represent my state in the Senate. That’s not to say we agree on everything (i.e. this bridge, which passed the Senate yesterday–more on this forthcoming), but that does not mean that I have anything but the utmost admiration for her.
And thus, I’m happy to see her polling numbers continue their climb in the latest polling data on Minnesota. She now holds a 61% approval rating in Minnesota, with a negative of 29%. A remarkable achievement, I would say, in this era of extreme partisanship. This makes her the 6th most popular Senator in the US.
As for other Minnesotans, apparently running for president does not help one’s approval ratings. Michelle Bachmann holds a 34% favoribility rating and 57 % negative. That same 57% think she should not run for another term in Congress. Yeesh. Tim Pawlenty also took a hit. 39% view him favorably. 51% said they would ‘definitely not’ support in in a statewide election.
Both Bachmann and Pawlenty have been seen as possible opponents for Klobuchar. How would that go as of today?
In a hypothetical match-up with Pawlenty or Bachmann, Klobuchar also comes out on top. Against Pawlenty, the poll shows her ahead against Pawlenty 54 percent to 39 percent and against Bachmann 58 percent to 35 percent.
I feel like TRC has been hitting the dirt lately. So I wanted to take a time out to praise Senator Klobuchar, and wish her luck in 2012. But I don’t think she’ll need it.
Michele Bachmann has ended her presidential bid. She just said it on MPR: “I have decided to step aside.” Well from one Minnesotan to another, I say: Michele Bachmann, you wasted a lot of money, and no good came of it. Congratulations.
Now she said something about never compromising. That’s probably why you lost, Michele. Actually. Probably not. In the real world where people live, compromise is a value, but, in today’s GOP reality, it really is not. It is somehow the mark of weak liberals who value policy accomplishment over grinding the government to halt and grinding down the hearts of Americans to a gritty pulp of despair.
Anyway. Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucus, just as TRC predicted. Santorum pretty much tied, and Ron Paul came in a very close third. Just wanted to make sure you heard the news.
Today is the Iowa Caucuses, most well known as the kick-off to the Presidential Election 2012. TRC is pretty excited to see what kind of madness ensues this year, and to get things rolling, we offer readers the “Everything you need to know about the candidates for today’s Iowa Caucus” primer that will get you through the rest of January 3.
So what do you need to know?
Our Prediction: It appears that Ron Paul or Rick Santorum might win the Iowa Caucuses. Or maybe Mitt Romney. But probably someone more conservative like Santorum or Paul. Or Romney.
Also, Michele Bachmann is going to be keep “fighting” to “surprise” despite having a snowballs chance, and Newt Gingrich is going to be mean because he has always said he would run a clean campaign until he peaked then started trending downward thus allowing him to finally display is true dickish nature. Which if you recall is really, really dickish.
Thus Mitt Romney is your winner. Even if he doesn’t win, he wins. I mean, look at these guys:
There you have it. Your 2012 Republican field.
Discussing her GOP rivals for the Presidential nomination, Bachmann said:
“Unfortunately for too many Republicans, they also aspire to be frugal socialists…We can’t preserve liberty if the choice is between a frugal socialist and an out of control socialist.’
In a world where everyone else is a socialist, Michele Bachmann stands alone for freedom and liberty.
Just a heads up to Bachmann: you know who is actually not a socialist? Pretty much everyone elected in the two-party system.
She also said: “Washington, D.C. will never look the same after my administration.”
On that, I think we can all agree.
Unicorn Blood Makes your car GO GO GO!, or, How Michele Bachmann learned to stop worrying and love the carbon
Today’s Star Tribune Politics section has two headlines, back to back, regarding Michele Bachmann. One of them is an eye-rolling tortuous moment of political tomfoolery about God (I imagine, I didn’t read it), and the other, well, is just ridiculous.
Michele Bachmann has been taking her energy platform to the nation, recently. Her energy platform is: ruin the entire nation because we have fossil fuels. Also, environmentalism is the cause of every problem the US has regarding energy. Specifically, the threat is radical environmentalism that “locks up” America’s fuel sources over concerns like: global warming is very real and a threat to human welfare, and, we don’t have enough fresh water to continue wasting it on costly fuel extraction. The United States are the “king daddy dogs” of energy, according to Bachmann, and we should be drilling everywhere, and using every fossil fuel source we have. And we should do it all in an environmentally safe way. But we shouldn’t worry too much about that, and to make sure we don’t, the EPA should be abolished. Because that’s not radical, that’s responsible.
And when Bachmann says everywhere, she means it. The Everglades? Oil Shale in the Western Mountain States? The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? There has to be even more ecologically sensitive areas to drill for oil in the US that Bachmann wants to add to the list. How about the intestinal track of spotted owls (are mice made of oil?) or the blood of a princess unicorn (if it makes you live forever, can it make your car run forever?)?
As much as Bachmann might love to deny it (radical environmentalism just has a great ring to it), there is a whole ream of reasons we don’t use every stone or drop of fossil fuel in the US, beyond the impact of radical environmentalists, that keep us from drilling in the ANWR and in the Everglades, and there are reasons that we are not stripping mountain sides to remove oil from shale. Just a few are
- it is cost prohibitive to drill in many places we are not already drilling
- the amount of resources, such as the ANWR, though high in number (billions of barrels!) would actually have a fairly low impact on fuel consumption, and fuel costs, in the US;
- Floridians do not want to have drilling in the Everglades (“It would be as crazy as saying, ‘let’s drill under Space Mountain‘ in Disney World.)
- not to mention that we are already drilling right next door to the Everglades National Park , sites from which I am sure they are already drinking the milkshake.
- there is a very small amount of oil in shale in comparison to rock. In total the quantity of fuel is very high (billions of barrels of oil equivalent!), but the process of extracting it, well that just costs too much money and results in too little fuel.
- not to mention the process uses untoward amounts of water, which the west has a distinct shortage of.
These are just a few reasons, other than radical environmentalism (how did concern about climate change and clean air and fresh water become radical environmentalism on the Right? how did they manage to skew reality so much?), that we do not want to drill and extract fossil fuels everywhere we might have fossil fuels. Just extraction, not even getting to the myriad problems of burning these fuels and dealing with the GHGs they release. Saying we have bonkers amounts of coal, which we do, is not necessarily the strongest argument for continuing to burn coal until we either ruin the planet or run out of coal.
Of course we will continue to burn coal, and use oil long into the future, but we should all want to stop, even if it seems impossible, because we should all know that there are costs to using dirty fuels. Even idealistically if not pragmatically, the Drill, baby Drill!ers should recognize that not using fossil fuels is preferable, right? There are actual losses, in human life and financial resources and natural resources, that come from Michele Bachmann’s energy platform. There is no way to debate these losses. You can justify them in a balance between the alternatives, but even Michele Bachmann cannot say these costs are not real. And it does not take a radical environmentalist to say: wait, your plan is too dangerous. How about we try something else?
The United States once again is drawing near that ever-sacred year of madness: The Presidential Election. You would be forgiven for thinking that we’ve already been in the throes of this process–candidates have already left the race, joined the race, the candidate selection has taken its final shape, panic has kicked in because the candidate selection is unsettled–but we really haven’t reached Presidential Election mode. Just the silly season that comes immediately before.
Fall is just around the corner, though, and the reality of Primary Presidential Nomination and Presidential Head-to-Head is just weeks away. I love it and can’t wait, because TRC loves (LOVES) politics. But I am already weary of the boring, boring ideological battling that will eventually accompany the madness. This is not just liberal v. conservative, but it will be conservative v. conservative as well, as candidates seek to find the perfect ideological portfolio to convince the party he or she will be just the thing that everyone is looking for. (It is not liberal v. liberal, of course, because the liberal is the incumbent). The nominees must battle out their ideological bona fides, because their policies, in all likelihood, are pretty much the same. Hopefully in the countless discussions about science and Christianity, and Christianity and Mormonism, and small government and small businesses, and how Liberals are terrible, we can learn something about how the candidate will govern. I doubt that we will learn much, because political ideology, in my opinion, has little to do with how one will act as an elected officially. At least that is what TRC hopes beyond hope. Because when ideology becomes policy-making in a divided government, no one makes any policy (see debt ceiling, and everything else the past year). And so, I dread the ideological battling.
Why do I dread ideological debates? Because ideology is boring. Some Americans are political animals, and some are not. Some people are religious, some are not. The world influences us through our experiences and our genes and our education and through a million other factors and the adult human grows into the kind of person that has an ideology that best suits their vision of the world as it is, and how it should be. That’s it. I am no more interested in your ideological pinnings than I am in your personal secrets. Don’t try to convince me to change and I won’t try to convince you. Because it won’t happen. You or I might change our ideological worldview, indeed this happens all the time. But I think it rarely occurs because someone of the other ilk convinced the other. It was probably a further combination of the factors listed above, leading an individual to reassess for themselves what she values, and why.
So don’t worry about me and my values, and I won’t worry about you and yours. My worldview is carved out of my life, it has been given much (too much?) thought, and it works. For example, I don’t believe in god, I do believe in progressive taxation as the best way to take care of all the needs of the United States, I appreciate the value of welfare programs even though I know people take advantage of them, I think science explains the universe better than Religion, but I think stories are how we understand the universe, and I still have a viable morality that imbues my worldview. These are things that inform my ideological worldview. You might be an evangelical conservative, who swears by the Bible and by small government and the smallest taxes imaginable, rejects all science as hot-air, thinks handouts to the poor are a waste of money, and believe that if you are not a Christian you are going to hell. That’s fine. The wasted time spent trying to convert the other is boring and fruitless.
I can imagine that some readers of TRC are wondering, if ideology is so boring, why this blog reports about things like the views of science of the Republican candidates. What does it matter if Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann believe humans were created by a god rather than biological evolution? (if they do, I have no idea). This is an excellent point, and makes the valued distinction this whole post is about. Bachmann and Perry are free to reject all the science they want. That’s their right. But when Michele Bachmann starts a charter school with the intent of mixing the lines of school and religion, or when Rick Perry claims that the state of Texas teaches both creation and evolution, the conversation is not about ideology, it is about policy. This is a fine line, and it is why political and religious ideology can never fully be removed from government or policy-making, and the expectation that they would be completely removed is unrealistic.
Nevertheless, we have laws about what is allowed in the the science classroom, and we have a tax code, and we have programs that are funded by the government, and they operate regardless of your ideology. If you claim that you want to teach creation in the science classroom, you are talking about policy (unconstitutional policy, by-the-by, at least as of now) and I am happy to have a heated debate about history and how educational policy should be decided and whether the previous Court rulings rejecting Creation Science and ID were correct. That sounds like a blast. If you want to argue that science leads children away from salvation and into atheism, or that anyone who wants to raise taxes is against freedom and liberty, or that liberalism leads to fascism by making taking away individual choices and providing a nanny state, then you are just talking political ideology. And as much as those sentiments are perfectly absurd and incorrect and ignorant, it is your right to claim them. See why ideological battling is a waste of time?
What is interesting is what you want to see the government do, and how you think the government should do it. The US has voters like me and you, and everyone else, and the government will have to operate regardless. This is the question that is worth the fight: how should we govern a nation where there is no unified ideological majority? There is probably not even an ideological majority within each of our two parties, let alone nationally. But we have parties, and they have general outlines of what the values and beliefs of their party are, and the parties work through an often contentious process to bring about a candidate, and those candidates face off, and hopefully the winner will be able to govern the nation towards my side, because my side is a better way to run a country. Of course, you want the opposite of that, because you and I don’t agree on political ideology. Oh well.
How should we run the country anyway?
When the Tea Party burst on to the political scene in the US, we heard a lot about the mixed demographic population of the group. The Tea Party presented itself as a melting pot of angry Americans: disaffected Democrats and independents fed up with big government overreach joined libertarians and moderate Republicans who all decided to put small government and a decrease in spending as the highest priority. The issue at hand was economics, not social issues. The Tea Partiers were not political Americans but ‘regular folks’ who had just had it up to here. There were disparate groups and in-fighting due the local differences that arise throughout the US, but that was to be expected with any big-tent group. And liberals who painted a bloc picture of the Tea Party undersold its diversity and impact.
I never really bought that portrait, lovely as it might seem. The Tea Party always seemed to me a group of fairly staunch Republicans who wanted to make hay over small government in order to push for social conservative goals, like keeping Gay Marriage illegal, and furthering the cause of pushing religion in to government, and doing anything no matter what to never raise taxes. Maybe a touch of racism to boot.
Ezra Klein, the smartest wonk in the room, has a piece today that gets at the heart of TRC’s continued nervousness about the Tea Party. Klein reports on a study that interviewed a “nationally representative sample of 3,000 Americans” in 2006. Those same folks were interviewed this past summer, and ”as a result,” they explain, “we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later.”
So who became the Tea Party? Some highlights:
- The Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born… In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.
- The Tea Party is not a creature of the Great Recession…while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.
- They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.
- They were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today.
- Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics…they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates.
- The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.
A study like this may serve nothing but anecdotal evidence that is easy to brush aside. These are just interviews, after all. But they are interviews with quote rank and file Tea Party members, or put another way, voters. And as Klein points out, the above list of traits are not very popular in the general population as whole. Yes, Americans do want a smaller government (maybe) and a smaller deficit. But they do not want to see more religion brought into governance and they do not want to see deficit reduction only through cuts and never through tax increases.
And for these reasons, I continue to downplay the potential electability of a Tea Party candidate for US President. At the end of the day, when I do my politics round-up, I read the things that Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry say, out loud and on-camera, and I always am led to the same conclusion: S/he could never be elected president.
I comfort myself with the ‘conventional wisdom’ that Glenn Greenwald wrote about in Salon the other day, that the two party system by necessity draws out the middle-ground, status-quo candidates. That worrying this far out about some extremist candidate for President is not worth the sweat.
But that reassurance (or for Greenwald, terrible reality) might also mask the potential calamity of a true Tea Party President finding himself or herself in the oval office. After all, when the candidates are whittled down by the primary process, who will be the John McCain left standing?
Still, the Tea Party could never elect a president, right?
Previously, TRC has discussed the proposed bridge project that is going to replace the lift bridge in Stillwater, MN. The plan as it stands is to build a “freeway style bridge” from medium-small Stillwater to little Houlton, WI across the St. Croix River. This very large bridge will be able to accommodate future growth in the area, it is argued, as well as make for easier crossing between states during rush hours. There was an alternative plan floated by a group of environmental and conservation organizations, which was also supported by citizens who thought that such a large bridge would not be necessary.
But Governor Dayton has said that the small bridge proposal will not be considered, and the larger bridge will move forward, assuming congress provides the cash. The bridge project is bringing together strange bedfellows in politics, with the support of Sens. Franken and Klobuchar, Rep. Bachmann, Gov. Dayton, and a host of others. It is too bad that what can finally bring such a group together is the repeal of environmental law.
For the “freeway style bridge” to be constructed along the St. Croix, the river must be given an exemption from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which as Federal Law should be able to do that which the US Government intended it to do: protect wild and scenic rivers. The Rivers Act protects this stretch of the St. Croix from development that will harm the special character of the river, and bringing in a 4-5 lane bridge that runs bluff to bluff rather than above the water will certainly harm the special character of the river.
The reason that TRC finds this case so important is not that we are tied to only small projects forever, or that development is all inherently negative. Rather, exemptions from environmental laws set dangerous precedents. And bringing a monstrous bridge project that requires the end-around of a 40 year old river protection law is bad planning.